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ISW: Kremlin likely to nationalize Russian internet giant Yandex to affect Russia’s presidential election in 2024

Kremlin is likely attempting to nationalize major Russian internet corporation Yandex to strengthen control over the Russian information space in preparation for the 2024 Russian presidential election, ISW said.
ISW: Kremlin likely to nationalize Russian internet giant Yandex to affect Russia’s presidential election in 2024

The Kremlin appears to be forcing Yandex to sell or distance itself from international subsidiaries, including rideshare service Yango Israel, to comply with strict Russian data disclosure laws requiring Yandex to supply all user data, not just data of users in Russia, to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Institute for the Study of War said in its daily report.

“The Russian government has previously fined Yandex for failing to comply with this law despite Yandex’s statements that it is unable to provide the requested data.

The Russian government also previously fined Yandex CEO Artem Savinovsky for Yandex’s failure to comply with Russian censorship laws, possibly trying to compel Yandex into complying with Russian censorship laws not just in Russia but globally to undermine its global operations and user base.”

Yandex officials have previously stated that Yandex aims to follow the laws within each country. They have rebuked Russian data mining efforts by claiming it only provides user data to governments of users in that specific country, ISW said.

UK intel: Kremlin disrupts Russians’ access to VPNs to control domestic information

According to ISW, some Russian insider sources speculated that Yandex corporate development advisor Alexey Kudrin attempted and failed to turn Yandex into a national private company that Putin’s reported personal banker Yuri Kovalchuk would control.

Yandex founder and former CEO Arkady Volozh publicly decried the invasion of Ukraine on 10 August, and some Russian insider sources speculated that Volozh’s statement was a “white flag” showing that he had accepted that the Kremlin would likely go forward with its speculated formal nationalization effort, the Institute for the Study of War said.

“Yandex has likely been trying to balance between the Kremlin and its foreign governing bodies but now appears to be losing the battle to the Kremlin.”

Sources at Yandex fear a “brain drain” if Yandex is nationalized, as many Yandex employees left Russia after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Institute said, citing Reuters.

The Kremlin is probably aware of this, given that recent offers to acquire Yandex have come not from Russian government agencies but from investors linked to Kremlin officials, ISW concluded.

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